Fantasy Insider: John Deere Classic
July 10, 2018
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
2018 John Deere Classic Preview
By now, you've reviewed the 2018-19 PGA TOUR schedule that was released on Tuesday. It's always fun to dive in and analyze, but gamers tend to consume it through a different prism, or at least with an additional lens. I share my perspective in this fantasy preview.
While this week's priority is going to work on the John Deere Classic, we can't help but peek ahead at the Open Championship on deck. As of Tuesday afternoon, 14 golfers in the field at TPC Deere Run are exempt into the field of 156 at Carnoustie.
Bronson Burgoon— Rob Bolton (@RobBoltonGolf) July 9, 2018
Si Woo Kim
+1 (highest finisher, not currently exempt, inside the top 5) https://t.co/EIyGbaa7M0
As you start the process of making decisions for the season's third major, consider the following fact: Of the 26 golfers who finished inside the top 25 of the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale last year, 19 competed somewhere in the previous week. Fifteen of those played the Scottish Open (with mixed results, naturally), three played the Deere and one (Austin Connelly) teed it up in a Challenge Tour event in Italy.
The moral of the story is that staying warm has its value despite the finish.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO
My roster for the John Deere Classic (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Austin Cook; Brian Gay; Chesson Hadley; Peter Malnati; Chez Reavie
Driving: Austin Cook; Joel Dahmen; C.T. Pan; Chez Reavie
Approach: Wesley Bryan; Brian Gay; Chesson Hadley; Chris Kirk; Chez Reavie
Short: Wesley Bryan; Austin Cook; Brian Gay; Chesson Hadley; Peter Malnati; Daniel Summerhays
Power Rankings Wild Card
Now that I have Kevin Na figured out – don't be foolish; I know better – it's time to shift the focus to another moving target. Kirk has enjoyed a quietly strong season. He's 57th in the FedExCup with four top 10s, including in his last start at TPC Southwind (T6). (Yes, he's taken four weeks off.) Not unlike Na, Kirk's value is best appreciated in the long-term, but he could emerge from this field and contend without surprise. He's 4-for-5 at the JDC with a pair of T22s (2011, 2013), and there aren't any red flags on the sheet as it concerns his fit for the course right now.
Depending on the price, of course, he's perfect fodder for DFSers. Statistically among the strongest, but his greatest value is with his balance. He also won't get blown by off the tee at TPC Deere Run, which is his primary weakness (on a very short list of them). Solid record here includes a T5 in 2011 and T15 in 2013.
Dylan Meyer (DFS)
J.T. Poston (DFS)
Andrew Putnam (DFS)
Harold Varner III
Tip your visor to any opponent who rostered him en route to a T5 at Greenbrier, but continue to limit him to full-season formats. Last week's effort was just his second top-35 finish of 2018.
Tee to green, he remains among the best on TOUR, but his putting has been nothing short of dreadful for most of the season. He's lost strokes to the field with the putter in his last 12 starts in which ShotLink measured performance. He's also just 3-for-8 without a top-30 finish in individual competition upon arrival. It's not that he hasn't connected on the greens at TPC Deere Run before what with a solo third (2012) and a T14 (2015) in his last two trips, but gamers cannot expect him to flip the switch. Otherwise, you'd have been expecting the same for a while now.
Si Woo Kim
For a two-time winner who likes to play often and has made quite a bit of noise in his young career, it's hard to believe that he's gone seven straight starts without a top 25. The absence of stronger performance more often slashes his value in DFS where he won't come cheap. Also hasn't played TPC Deere Run since missing the cut in his debut five years ago.
Although he's been a regular in his home-state event, the tournament hasn't always rewarded his loyalty. Two eighth-place finishes in 2009 and 2012 highlight a 4-for-7 slate on which his other two paydays were T44s. It's the kind of angle that exposes the absence of more inspiring form despite how good he's looked on paper pretty much all year. Zero top 30s in his last seven starts, many for which I endorsed him. It begs the debate of wondering if he's "close" or simply failing to get comfortable on the greens where his metrics are unfavorable.
While he placed T8 in his only previous appearance in 2016, he's presented as a better own on harder tracks. We can always recall his T15 at the U.S. Open in 2016, but his breakthrough win at TPC San Antonio and T8 two weeks ago at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm (that isn't as easy as Francesco Molinari might make you believe it is) are recent evidence that if we're going to invest, let's stick to his grit when par is a good score.
No change from previous weeks during which I've cited an extended slump since the fatal crash. He's drawing comparisons to the sudden downturn of Hunter Mahan two years ago. Haas is only seven days younger, so those two have been comps for each other throughout their careers. Haas is also just 1-for-5 at TPC Deere Run with a T17 way back in 2006. This week's appearance is his first in nine years.
He's the whisperer of The Old White TPC. It's amazing, really. Last week's T11 was his first top-40 finish of 2018. However, because he's 4-for-5 at TPC Deere Run with a pair of top 25s, I'd sign off on fractional ownership in DFS where he should be cost effective.
Returning to Competition
This decision is not unlike the annual wave of early withdrawals that the FedEx St. Jude Classic experiences immediately after sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open the same week. He gained entry into The Open Championship with a T3 at Greenbrier, so his hiatus at TPC Deere Run will extend another year. It would have been his first appearance since 2009.
His T4 at the Quicken Loans National not only cemented his card for 2018-19 – he's currently 93rd in FedExCup points – but it also secured an exemption into next week's Open Championship. It will mark his debut in a major.
A T13 at Greenbrier was his first top 25 since the fall. At 86th in the FedExCup standings, he's set for the Playoffs. The John Deere Classic would have been his fourth consecutive week on the road, a stretch to which he hasn't committed since opening 2018 with four straight starts.
Power Rankings Recap – A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Tony Finau T21
2 Webb Simpson T47
3 Bubba Watson T13
4 Russell Henley 10th
5 Jimmy Walker MC
6 Phil Mickelson T65
7 J.B. Holmes MC
8 Charles Howell III T30
9 Brian Harman T56
10 Xander Schauffele T21
11 Andrew Putnam MC
12 Ryan Moore T13
13 Joaquin Niemann T5
14 Anirban Lahiri T39
15 Brian Gay T39
Wild Card Danny Lee MC
Sleepers Recap – A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier
Ben Crane MC
Brandon Harkins T30
Denny McCarthy T39
Norman Xiong MC
NOTE: Brandon Hagy was included when this published, but he withdrew shortly thereafter.
Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR
July 10 … none
July 11 … Sean O'Hair (36)
July 12 … Robert Allenby (47); Alex Noren (36)
July 13 … Brandon Harkins (32); Tyler Duncan (29)
July 14 … Michael Kim (25)
July 15 … Dicky Pride (49)
July 16 … Adam Scott (38)